Review#2: MrJan Gear - Boris Photo Backpack
For the past four months I have been touring all over Norway and made a trip to the Netherlands. During this period I made a new friend… a very good friend… a reliable friend which joined me on every single tour and helped me to get through some of the toughest situations… His name is Boris.
In January I wrote my first review on this impressive photo backpack called “Boris”, produced by the brand MrJan Gear. In that review I wrote about my first findings, but still needed to properly test the bag in the field. Having used this bag intensively for the past few months, I can now tell you a bit more about it. I won’t go into the details which I discussed in the previous review. You can find the previous review here.
If I would have to describe the backpack in one word, it would be “versatile” or “awesome”. The thing I really love about this backpack, is that it is very easy to customize it to the gear you need to bring. I guided 4 different types of tours in the past months. For each tour I needed to bring a different selection of photo gear and outdoor gear. The way this bag is designed, allows you to quickly change the interior. The entire backpack is velcro-looped on the inside. So you can place the dividers anywhere you like. Many other photo backpacks I have seen, have a lot of small pockets on the inside for batteries, memory cards, filters, cables and such. The MrJan Gear Boris backpack does not have this. Instead the backpack comes with a set of different size storage bags, which can be attached with velcro. I use these bags to store a lot of my photo gear separately, such as my camera batteries, memory cards, remote controls, filters, cleaning gear, cables, normal batteries and first aid kit. This means I can choose which bags I take with me for which tour and attach and detach them quite fast.
The backpack can pack a lot of gear and the straps on the side allow you to easily attach even more gear. This means that you can end up with quite a bit of weight strapped to your back. In the firs review I described how comfortable the backpack sat on my back. And this has not changed at all. In February and March I guided 3 tours in Dovrefjell to photograph musk-oxen. I walked a total of 12 days through the mountains with this backpack on my back, with an extra backpack, for the cooking gear and food, attached to it. The total weight was probably somewhere around the 22kg. I never experienced any pain in my shoulders or back. The supporting straps really do what they are supposed to do! …until you lose one of them that is. The strap which is fastened around your chest, is detachable in order to change its position. Sadly, I lost this strap during my last Dovrefjell tour. And carrying such a heavy packed backpack without this strap, was not that comfortable anymore. This strap really has an important function on the backpack and should not be lost!
The MrJan Gear Boris backpack with a smaller backpack, for cooking gear and food, strapped to it.
When I contacted MrJan Gear to inform them of this issue, they happily informed me that they just re-designed the Boris backpack and that they have already tackled this issue, together with some other cosmetic changes.
The MrJan Gear Boris IV
A few weeks ago I picked up this new version of the Boris backpack, the “Boris IV” and have put it to the first tests.
On the left the old model and on the right the new model of the MrJan Gear Boris photo backpack.
What is new?
Improved carrying system. The chest strap is not detachable but still changeable in height. The waist strap still fits the same way around your body. But you don’t want to slam the buckle between your car door… because it probably will break your car door. On the previous bag the buckle was made out of standard plastic material. The new one looks like it has been made out of metal, but it actually is hardened plastic.
Carrying grips. On the old bag these were two simple loops, one on the top and one on the side of the bag. Now the loops are made much sturdier and are larger and curved for a more comfortable carry.
New dividers and lens support. The dividers have slightly changed, by adding more velcro to them it is even easier to design the bag as how you want it. They also added a lens supporting divider for larger lenses.
The straps on the outside of the bag (which I loved so much), have been “removed”. Instead of the fixed straps, they have made 16 laser cuts on the outside of the bag and delivered 4 straps with the bag. In this way you are free to choose where you want to have a strap on the bag, so you can freely choose where to attach extra gear to the backpack.
Elastic carrying straps for the tripod. With these straps you easily attach your tripod to the outside of the bag. You can choose any of the 16 laser cut holes to attach the tripod.
The front pocket is redesigned to carry more gear and it gives the bag a slightly tighter look.
An extra elastic netting side pocket
Features of the Boris IV. 1. Side straps, 2. Chest strap, 3. Waist strap, 4. Elastic tripod straps.
What is the same?
Size (fits all airline regulations!)
The comfort of carrying the bag
I think that the Boris IV is an improvement of the previous version. My biggest problem with the previous bag is that I lost my chest strap during a tour. This problem they tacked really well on the new version. The previous bag looked a bit sloppy, but it has gotten a nice face-lift. The new design of the front pocket and the carrying straps make the backpack look a bit tighter and smoother. The new dividers give even more freedom in how to design the interior of the bag. I’m not sure if I’m happy with the removal of the permanent side straps. I used these A LOT for attaching snowshoes and an extra backpack. I can still attach this extra equipment with the straps which are delivered with the bag, but I think the old system was easier for me. But on the other hand, the new elastic straps for attaching the tripod work great. I can detach the tripod with only one hand, which can be great in some situations.
Compared to other brands
When I compare the MrJan Gear Boris backpack to other photo backpacks on the market, I see one main difference in the design. Most of the other photo backpacks can open the entire main compartment. This gives easy and fast access to the entire bag, but it leaves all the gear exposed to rain, snow, dust, sand and other things you don’t want in your bag. The main compartment of the Boris is split in two. This slows you down when you want to get your gear out and you have to remember in which side you have packed which gear (which has not been any problem for me until now). You cannot leave the bag completely opened up, which means that your gear is more protected than in the other photo bags.
Considering the size, versatility and carrying comfort of the bag, I think that the MrJan Gear Boris photo backpack is the perfect backpack for guides and photographers who need to bring a lot of gear (plus extras) and often need to change the gear they need to bring along for a trip. Because the bag is divided in two main compartments, it protects the gear very well against rain, snow, dust and such. But I think that this makes the bag is less suitable for photographers who need to be able to quickly change camera gear during a shooting. I can imagine that maybe a wedding photographer quickly wants to grab a different lens and wants the bag to lay completely open next to him. I mainly shoot wildlife and landscapes and have not been slowed down by the backpack. When I shoot wildlife, as many of you, I use two cameras with each a different lens mounted. If I quickly need to change equipment, I only need to grab the other camera, which I always have on hand. So for me it is the perfect photo backpack.